Could Rasheed Wallace have been the missing piece for a Celtics’ title this year? First, let the laughter clear the room. Now really analyze this thought. On paper what is the Celtics’ biggest weakness?
Even after the addition of Darko Milicic, who by all accounts has been impressive, the frontcourt still remains a question mark. Boston knows what they will get from Kevin Garnett. Brandon Bass had a career year last season. Jeff Green will help contribute at the four spot, but he has been most effective playing small forward.
After those three, things become cloudier. Jared Sullinger was strong in the first two preseason games setting fans expectations high, but he is still a rookie. Chris Wilcox is coming off heart surgery, and has been battling a back issue throughout training camp. Jason Collins’ career production of 3.8 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game doesn’t exactly exude confidence either.
Could Wallace have been the solution? He has been absent from the NBA the past two seasons, and is undeniably out of shape. He arguably (alright he definitely did) coasted through his last regular season with Boston. He’s been known as a questionable figure within the locker room, and commitment has never been his strong suit. So why even bother?
First, he’s a gamer. While he slacked off in the 2009-2010 regular season, he stepped it up in time for the playoffs, most notably with his Game 7 performance against the Lakers. Forced into a starting role with the Kendrick Perkins’ injury, Wallace played 36 minutes, giving the Celtics 11 points and 8 rebounds. Wallace could take the first two months of this season to work himself into game shape. When he’s ready, the Celtics could then slowly integrate him into the lineup on a regular basis.
Garnett and Wallace have a tremendous relationship dating back to 1995 when they were part of the same draft class. Wallace’s personality would seem to fit in perfectly with a team led by proud veterans. He’s the same guy who guaranteed a win in Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. The Pistons of course won the game, on their way to an NBA title, and the media coined the term “guarensheed.”
Wallace was also known to carry around a replica WWE championship belt, and gave each of his teammates a belt. His addition would give the Celtics a Hall-of-Fame collection of trash talkers with himself, Garnett, Jason Terry, and Paul Pierce. He’s been through the playoff battles and his experience could prove valuable come May. He would also have the respect of those veterans, which is important on the floor during crunch time.
On the court Wallace is one of the most talented big men ever. Remember talent does not mean greatness or even production, but Wallace had all the skills to dominate a game, both offensively and defensively. His turn around bank shot off the backboard is just as unstoppable as Garnett’s turnaround fade away in the post. Defensively, Wallace’s communication rivals Garnett’s level. He can be heard from television barking out instructions to teammates, standing as the last line of defense.
He’s too old and washed up to play, he’d never stay healthy some may argue. He’s 38-years old, which is two years older than Garnett, and in his last season with Boston he played 79 games. In his final six NBA seasons, Wallace played a minimum of 66 games each year. After taking two years off, he won’t be at the same level, but wouldn’t it have been worth a shot to at least invite him to training camp.
Wallace may have left a sour taste with Boston fans and maybe even Danny Ainge, after his one-year stint. He has now signed with the New York Knicks making him the enemy. But if the Celtics had managed to capture that Game 7 against the Lakes, he’d forever be remembered as a Boston hero.
Would Wallace make a drastic impact for the Celtics? Maybe not, but who would you rather have backing Garnett up at center in a playoff series against the Heat this year. Milicic, Wilcox, Collins, or a four-time NBA all-star who was one of the leaders for an NBA champion Pistons’ squad.
As Wallace would say, “BALL DON’T LIE.”